The negative impact of covid-19 on development across the world has been quite evident. The ability of governments and institutions to function effectively has been largely down to their level of innovation and strong-will.
Tasked with the responsibility of delivering social housing on behalf of the Nigerian government, the Family Homes Funds Limited has so far distinguished itself as an organization that can contend with challenges while delivering on its goals and objectives.
Through significant investments in social housing and multiple job creation across the country, the Family Homes Funds has become one of the most important backbones of post covid recovery in Nigeria.
Before the covid-19 outbreak, the institution had already financed the development of more than 10,000 homes in several states including Delta, Kano, Ogun, Kaduna and Nasarawa. As the lockdown was eased in the country, the Fund immediately continued with its affordable housing development in more states like Ogun, Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Kano and many more. These projects have so far led to the creation of more than 50,000 jobs across the country.
The Family Homes Funds is focused on the delivery of homes that are affordable for low-income earners like civil servants, market traders, artisans, and several categories of workers in the low-income bracket.
The importance of what Family Homes Funds seeks to achieve in the affordable housing space was made much more obvious by the pandemic and how it greatly affected housing. Majority of Nigerians who either live in poor conditions or are homeless felt the most pang of the pandemic. With the global lockdown, it meant that many would be restricted to their homes, but for many, there was nothing like home.
The kind of environment in most of the informal settlements across the country are perfect places for diseases to thrive uncontrollably. This became a serious fear for many as the virus was spreading fast. The moment gave rise to serious conversations about housing, especially for the poor. The relevance of what Family Homes Funds was doing and the need to support the institution to do more became much more evident to many.
But besides the opportunity for healthy living, housing is a vital economic stimulus which not only provides shelter but creates jobs and empowers the chain of business transactions leading to its delivery. There is a strong realization at Family Homes Funds that one of the most effective ways of dealing with age long problems like poor health, crime, poverty, and other maladies facing Nigeria is to provide mass affordable housing.
To compliment what the Fund has been doing, the Federal Government of Nigeria announced the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) as a post covid recovery plan for the economy. Under the ESP is the National Social Housing Programme (NSHP), which is being implemented by the Family Homes Funds to provide up to 300,000 homes for low-income earners in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
In the process of providing these homes, the institution will also enable the creation of up to 1.5m jobs for different categories of formal and informal workers in the country. The programme is also being delivered in partnership with SME partners who will supply construction materials in bulk – amounting to a substantial appreciation of their businesses. One would agree that the impact of this in the post-covid economy would be huge.
With limited income which has been further affected by covid, most Nigerians on low-income will deeply appreciate the opportunity for affordable homeownership. The Family Homes Funds is already offering this opportunity as most of their legacy projects are priced below N4 million, while the homes being built through the NSHP will be as cheap as N2 million. The institution has also provided mortgage opportunities through products like Help to Own, Student Housing and others.
It is great that the Managing Director of Family Homes Funds (FHF), Mr Femi Adewole, has acknowledged that the most transformative thing they can do is to introduce a formal rental system into the market.
Through its Rental Housing and Help-to-Own Schemes, beneficiaries of the project enjoy a deferred loan for up to 40% of the cost of their home. For the first 5 years of the loan, no payments need to be made. From the 6th year, monthly payments will be made to start repaying both interest and capital to assist the purchaser.
Family Homes Funds is most likely the only institution today in the country that is providing financing for affordable housing outside of the commercial banks where the interest rates, requirements, affordability, and development costs are usually high. The fact that they can provide financing at no more than 10 percent per annum which is about one third of the market rate is a significant and novel intervention.
Housing is a major catalyst for any country that wishes to bounce back quickly from the economic hardship that has followed the pandemic, and it is important that the Family Homes Funds is actively poised in this direction, with the support of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Because of the complex game of housing, solving housing problems now require, more than ever, an urgent collaboration between players in the sector – both from public and private sectors. Despite the challenges that abound in the sector, it has become important to note what the Family Homes Funds has been doing and the opportunities ahead, especially for Nigerians on low-income looking forward to homeownership.